The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said thirteen soldiers were killed during a special operation in five states code-named “Operation Ayem Akpatuma.
This was as the DHQ accused the Taraba State Government of incitement against the military.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Army had, in the wake of mindless killings in Benue, Tarana, Nasarawa and two other states, initiated an exercise, with a view to restoring security and order to the troubled areas.
Though mixed reactions had trailed the special operation, the DHQ has said that 13 soldiers lost their lives in the course of the exercise.
Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. John Agim, who made the disclosure at a briefing in Abuja, further noted that a total of 147 suspected herdsmen were arrested within the period under review.
Agim added that 13 soldiers sustained varying degrees of injuries.
“During the exercise, we lost some of our dear colleagues. 13 soldiers were killed in action, while 7 soldiers were wounded in action,
“We also had our equipment destroyed during the Operation. A total of 183 criminals were arrested in Exercise Ayem Akpatuma in Benue and Taraba States for various offences. In Benue State, 147 herdsmen, 6 cultists, 5 rustlers and 6 armed bandits were arrested, while 15 were
arrested in Taraba state.
“In 1 Division Area of Responsibility, a total of 13 bandits were arrested. All the arrested suspects have been handed over to the Nigeria Police for further action”, Agim said.
On recoveries made, the DAPR said: “Several arms and ammunition were recovered during Exercise Ayem Akpatuma. In Benue State, 1 AK 47 rifle, 1 FN rifle, 3 AK 47 Magazine, 9 rounds of 7.62mm special, 23 round of 7.62mm NATO, 13 Dane guns, 38 machetes, several spears/axes and assorted charms were recovered. Also, 18 motorcycle and 15 handsets were recovered in Benue State.
“In Taraba State, 4 AK 47 riffles With 3 magazines, 96 rounds of 7.62mm special, 8 rounds of 9mm, and 19 locally-made guns were recovered. Others include 5 locally made pistols, one Shotgun and 27 live cartridges.”.
On the allegation of incitement against the Taraba State Government, Agim said: ” Regrettably, during the conduct of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, some civil authorities, especially in Taraba State, did not accord the military the desired cooperation.
“For instance, the Chairman of Takum Local Government Area in Taraba State (allegedly) did not cooperate with 93 Battalion, instead portrayed the military in a bad light to the locals.
“His actions before and during Exercise Ayem Akpatuma were clearly anti-military and he incited his people on many occasions to resist and confront the military.” (New Telegraph)